DSCN0954

DSCN0950

DSCN0949Snow on the Mountain

DSCN0955

DSCN0945

DSCN0943Sunflowers

DSCN0952Curlycup Gumweed

The prairie is stunning
these days.
We are in the last days
of August
and it’s green.
But that’s only part of the story.
Sunflowers stand six feet tall,
thick along roadsides,
next to Johnson Grass, just as tall,
and covering pastures
amidst masses of shorter, white Snow on the Mountain,
bright yellow, Curlycup Gumweed.
Broomweed, still green,
is soon to pop open its tiny yellow flowers
and the prairie will take on another dimension—
great swathes of white
among great swathes of yellow.
Already, for miles,
the prairie is a bouquet
the likes of which we haven’t seen in awhile.
Three years of drought,
even Red Cedar trees were dying—
an indication of the depth of the dry soil.
The wondrous thing about the prairie
is that seeds—adapted
to the cycles of drought and flood—
lie in the soil
for years
waiting for rain.
This summer’s uncommon, steady rains
have given those seeds the chance to flourish.

It must be said…ranchers,
who are focused on feeding cattle,
would not be happy about the “weeds.”
But the soil—
helped by sunflowers alone,
as their roots grow six feet into the earth;
and bees—
who love the amazing sunflower blossoms
(the “heads” are actually hundreds of little flowers
mathematically arranged
to produce the most flowers, seeds);
and wildlife—
which will have considerable new habitat—
are going to all be healthier
for the ecstatic growth.
These prairie bouquets
speak to the wonder
of prairie life.